A COUNCIL manager who robbed taxpayers by stealing £173,526 from his employers has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Accountant Arthur Mullett, 62, was the commercial manager of Barnsley Council’s transport services department at its Smithies Lane depot.
However, instead of banking income received for services such as testing taxis and issuing MOTs and vehicle licences, he siphoned off the money into his own bank accounts over a five-year period.
Ian Goldsack, prosecuting at Sheffield Crown Court, said that at the height of his scam in 2008-09, he stole £32,239, after taking £25,880 the previous year.
Mullett, of West Halton, near Scunthorpe, has never revealed what he spent the money on.
Mr Goldsack said Mullett had worked for the council since 1997 and the cash was stolen over the financial years 2005 to 2010. He was caught out when his line manager became suspicious.
Mr Goldsack said: “Unfortunately for taxpayers, it seems the degree of trust and autonomy invested in him was such he was subjected to limited scrutiny.”
The accountant was supposed to record cheques and cash received before placing them in a safe. He later banked the cheques but pocketed some of the cash.
His line manager noticed discrepancies in 2009 and a full internal audit was carried out.
Mullett was suspended in June 2010 and the matter reported to the police. He failed to attend a disciplinary meeting and was sacked two months later.
Mr Goldsack said: “A substantial portion of the stolen money was used as cash to avoid the need to draw on other funds.”
Mullett admitted theft of £173,526 from Barnsley Council between March 31, 2005 and April 1, 2010.
Anil Murray, mitigating, said: “He couldn’t remember how much he had stolen.”
His wife needed an operation and he wanted to assist her and he had mounting credit card debts.
Mr Murray said: “He began taking the cash and as he did it became a habit. He didn’t realise it was as much as the charge sets out and he couldn’t explain where the money went.
“This is a significant fall from grace. He has lost his good name, his job and his pension and he is effectively a broken man.”
When the extent of Mullett’s crime was revealed, the council clawed back £88,990 from his pension entitlement. He still owes more than £84,000 and confiscation proceedings are expected to take place to recover that cash.
Judge Jeremy Baker said Mullett was in a ‘significant position of trust’ and his senior position made jail inevitable.
He said: “It is clear you were effectively siphoning off public money.”